THE LATEST: Amendment C in South Dakota was another example of the orchestrated & ongoing attacks on our democratic institutions. The state legislature attempted to obstruct ballot measures supported by their communities and critical to improving thousands of lives. In a victory for a state with a long legacy of direct democracy, voters in South Dakota defeated Amendment C at the polls on June 7, 2022. More from our partner, The Fairness Project, is available here.


BACKGROUND

“Constitutional Amendment C is the latest example of the orchestrated and ongoing attack from bad actors across the country on our democratic institutions. State legislatures are attempting to shut down ballot measures overwhelmingly supported in their communities and critical to improving the lives of millions. We are proud to support these efforts by voters to stand up and protect South Dakota’s long history of direct democracy, and uphold the will of the people.”

-Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward

South Dakota was the first state in the nation to adopt the ballot process. For more than 100 years, voters in South Dakota have used ballot measures to make direct change at the ballot box.

Yet, an initiative in South Dakota weakens ballot measures. Proposed Constitutional Amendment C combines two unrelated topics–revenues and expenditures–and makes voters vote on them in one measure. It would also require 60 percent of votes cast, instead of a simple majority vote now required, to approve certain ballot measures.

The Proposed Constitutional Amendment C violates the state constitution and should not be submitted to voters for consideration during the primary election. Specifically, South Dakota’s constitution contains two requirements that work in tandem: a single subject requirement and a separate vote requirement. Both requirements ensure voters will not be forced to vote on multiple constitutional changes in a single vote. Because Amendment C contains more than a single subject, it is itself unconstitutional.

This Amendment is currently scheduled to appear on the primary ballot and, if approved, the two requirements would be adopted in the state’s constitution.

On January 18, 2022 voters in South Dakota, represented by Brendan Johnson and Timothy Billion of Robins Kaplan, LLP, challenged Amendment C. Plaintiffs are seeking immediate relief in the form of a permanent injunction barring Amendment C from being placed on the primary ballot and placing Amendment C into the South Dakota Constitution.

Democracy Forward and The Fairness Project are collaborating to ensure that laws that undermine direct democracy and people’s voices in government do not go unchallenged.

Last Updated: June 9, 2022

News

Amendment C challenged on single-subject rule

South Dakota Public Broadcasting / January 20, 2022